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7 Math Storybooks Every Child Should Read, No. 7: Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar

Now that school is starting for most kids, it’s time to wind up our series of great math stories for kids! We hope these books have provided you with a fun way to reinforce the math your students are learning, as well as introducing new ideas and concepts. We’ve featured stories that are enjoyable for kids and adults, and there are many activities that you can do after reading them to reinforce the math lessons. While it’s hard for some kids to get their minds back on school, finishing off this series of seven math stories should be a fun way to wind down the summer.

Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno

Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar, by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno

Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar is a math storybook for all ages
Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar, by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno, is an engaging story about counting and so much more. It starts with the idea that there is a jar that contains one island, which has two countries, each of which has three mountains. This idea continues up to ten. Each page has only a little text with many pictures to illustrate the concepts. For example, on the page describing the three mountains, there are three mountains inside separate borders to help illustrate the concept.

As for math, Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar is full of concepts, both for younger and older children. For the younger kids, the story works as a counting book from one to ten. The bordered illustrations help with counting on each page. For second and third grade students, the book works as an introduction to multiplication where you can start with the smaller numbers and work up to the more difficult problems, such as eight times nine. For older children, the story introduces the idea of factorials. Students must already know multiplication in order to understand factorials, but this story does a great job of slowly introducing the pattern and building up to a full explanation at the end. As you can see, this is a great story to read with the whole family, because kids at different grade levels will relate to some part of the concepts discussed. It can also become a classic as a child grows up; you can return to it every couple of years and your child will discover something new each time!

What you can do to reinforce the ideas in Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar
There are a number of activities that will enhance the math introduced in this story, depending on the age of your child. For  younger children who are practicing counting, have them see how many houses are in your neighborhood, how many rooms are in your house, or how many jars or cans of catfood you have in a cupboard. Then compare those numbers to the numbers in the book. Is it reasonable to have six houses in a village, or should there be more?

For older children, activities should involve slightly harder math in order to keep them interested and learning. You could do a similar type of activity, though. Maybe see how many rooms there are in each village by doing six times seven. Then see how many rooms there are in your neighborhood or on your street by assuming that each house has the same number of rooms as yours. This will involve a journey outside to count houses, and then the multiplication to see how many rooms there are.

If your child is at the point of understanding factorials, the activities can start before you even finish reading the book. You can stop reading at the question, “How many jars were in the boxes all together?” See what your child thinks, and then re-read the story taking notes in order to figure out the answer together (it should be 3,628,800 or 10!). Compare your estimate to the answer, then finish reading the book. There is also a desk-arranging problem at the end of the book that your child can solve using the idea of factorials. If you are feeling creative, you can write and illustrate your own example of a factorial following the style of the book.

Whatever activity you choose to do, make sure you keep it fun. With summer winding down, your child is going to want to make the most of it!

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